Missouri’s Special Session on crime takes new twist

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 6:38 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - Having an omnibus bill, a bill with several different topics, isn’t new for Missouri lawmakers.

”Traditionally, that’s when we’re in a very short, truncated time table,” said House Speaker Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield.

Senate Bill 1, the violent crime bill passed overwhelmingly by the upper chamber last week, had six different topics. All six were the things Governor Mike Parson wanted lawmakers to consider during this special session, including establishing a witness protection fund, allowing judges to try a teenagers as adults for certain crimes, and allowing St. Louis Police to live outside of the city.

A House committee was in the middle of a hearing Monday when Parson called to expand the session.

He wants lawmakers to allow the Attorney General to help the St. Louis Circuit Attorney prosecute homicides. He said only 33 of the 161 homicides this year in the city had charges filed.

That seems to have led to the abrupt decision to cancel Wednesday’s hearings, and split the bill into separate parts.

”The governor expanding the call in the middle of a committee hearing definitely complicated the work that we had to do,” Haahr said. “In order to allow our members the chance to review each one of these proposal individually, it seemed the prudent course of action to break these up into individual pieces.”

Kelli Jones, a spokesperson for Governor Parson’s office told KY3/KSPR’s Andrew Havranek in a statement “Governor Parson and his administration fully understand and believe in the legislative process, but also believe time is of the essence as homicides continue to increase across the state. We also greatly appreciate the Missouri Senate for starting the process to develop SB 1, which received strong bipartisan support and the large number of House Republicans who have reached out to our office in support of our crime package.”

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said this is political malpractice by Governor Parson, saying this has already cost taxpayers more than $100,000.

”The governor has had several weeks to plan this,” Quade said. The Republicans have control of all the chambers, and they still weren’t able to get it done. The whole thing is just a very jumbled mess, and it’s pretty frustrating.”

Haahr said he hopes their work on the violent crime bills is done by September 1.

Lawmakers will work in committee next week to separate the original bill. The full House of Representatives will return on August 24.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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